back to problems… err… revisions

I’ve been trying to update my proposal and have had a terrible morning realizing its crap. Why? Because I’ve been thinking too much and now I’ve got 100 revisions to make. What this means is: I need to learn to write a proper academic proposal. By this I mean, it needs to be more general, less specific, more vague so that I don’t end up needing to revise each day i learn something new.

Here are the things I’m going to try and work in for version .5:

  • Justify how I can make this research “ethnographic”. I like the idea of ethnography being “adaptive” as promoted by Christine Hine in Virtual Methods.
  • Write up a more “nuanced” (just for you max) discussion about collaborative anthropology incorporating this great post by Max Forte.
  • Ponder the problem that I’ve picked a topic where I could spend years reading literature to learn more about it, without ever doing “ethnography”. Not to mention I’ll have three months to try and contribute something to it. This is one reason I think a collaborative research design is essential, with only three months I am going to need some very good consultants!
  • should I play with the idea of “decolonization” as a “theoretical framework”?
  • Or focus on more practical discussions… probably a mix of both (ie current OA movement, but I could contribute to that by bringing in studies from post-colonialism on publishing and culture. And these discussions could be helpful in bringing what the OA movement is pushing to anthropologists. (So score one for being someone who does interdisciplinary work, sometimes gathering peoples ideas and opinions and “just” restating them is relevant, in that you can carry the words to new places.
  • When do I stop revising a proposal since everything I read makes me want to change the direction completely? Ie: I just found a wealth of writings on publishing and colonialism – i could spend years reading all this stuff…. how do you balance book research with “fieldwork”?

I suppose I could focus on this “new audiences, new participants, new ways of speaking” idea, participating in as many ways as possible as an anthropologist online (taking the advice of Enkerli who makes the excellent point blogs are only one medium within many.) I can start twittering for example (so many twitter fans admit they hated the idea just like I do, but once they started they couldn’t stop… I have a fear of going native there – same goes for mmo’s).

This experience participating could feed into discussions with anthropologists about publishing experiences with new technologies, new licenses, the creative commons, open access journals. And also “new ways of speaking” like twittering, etc, and how they fit into “distributing knowledge” in anthropology.

I’d write up a few “life histories” of anthropologists experience publishing, about who they write to, how, the desired audience, why they chose to publish what, and where, . [requires some willing anthropologists, and theres flexibility here to discuss various aspects of interest to each person willing to help out]

Then i’d write up a narrative of a journal and how journals are adapting to the internet (ie open access, e-journals, distribution issues, political economy of publishing kind of story. [requires some consultants from the publishing industry]

Finally I could weave some ethnographic magic and look at it all in light of colonialism and publishing (I’ll have time to catch up on readings after the fieldwork period… ), exploring in a way “the decolonization”, or possibly not [depending on how the research goes, it could actually turn into “colonizing with the internet”. oh god… focus… somehow… must…. focus…


One response to this post.

  1. Just say “nuance” as often as possible and it should be fine. Seriously now, don’t get bogged down in this, even if there is no such thing as “wasted time” when you think about problems as much as you have been doing.


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